Kentucky has signed a law allowing public, state-funded schools to teach courses on the Bible.
Gov. Matt Bevin (R) signed the bill Tuesday, NBC News reported, but watchdog groups concerned about church and state separation fear the classes may cross the constitutional line and go from teaching to preaching.
“Right now the language of the bill is very vague and the Kentucky Department of Education has not yet put together a curriculum,” Amber Duke of the Kentucky American Civil Liberties Union said.
“The concern, though, is that you could have a curriculum that is constitutional and could be delivered in a manner that is not constitutional.”
The Bible class is meant to “establish an elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible, the New Testament, or a combination of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible,” according to the bill.
And it’s meant to “provide to students knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture.”
Though Mr Johnson noted that the development of the course would not be unconstitutional, the state Department of Education will be the agency helping school districts develop the curriculum.
The department, like every state education department in the country, receives federal government funds.
Recently, in a related case the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of a church in Missouri which had sought state funds to fix the pavement of its preschool playground. The court said the state cannot deny religious institutions any public benefits.
Mr Bevin noted that: “You could be an atheist, and you would appreciate there’s a lot of wisdom in the Bible”.
No other religious texts are included in the bill, which is set to go into effect on 30 June.